Simone Rocha may not have taken home the LVMH Prize, but the 27-year-old designer is in greater demand than ever. This month she’s poised (like Christopher Kane before her) to launch a collaboration with J Brand, and in Love‘s latest issue, she sits down with Comme des Garçons International president (and husband to designer Rei Kawakubo) Adrian Joffe. Joffe has been a staunch supporter since Rocha debuted her first collection with Fashion East back in 2010, and he also happens to have known the designer since she was a child. In the Q&A, moderated by Love editor Jack Sunnucks, Rocha and Joffe talk cultural identity, her “abysmal” academic performance, and the six dearly departed Joffe-Kawakubo cats. Also of note? The possibility that a Simone Rocha scent may just be hitting Dover Street Market shelves in the future.
An exclusive excerpt as well as a Patrick Demarchelier-lensed, Katie Grand-styled portrait of Rocha (sporting her own design) debuts below. To read the full interview, pick up Love Issue 12, as covered by Christy Turlington (shot by Inez & Vinoodh, and pictured above), Adriana Lima, Kendall Jenner, and Amy Adams. It hits newsstands July 28.
When Love joins Simone Rocha and Adrian Joffe, the pair are debating the very important topic of pets: Adrian has just revealed that he and his wife, Rei Kawakubo, used to have six cats at home in Japan.
Adrian Joffe: We liked cats, but there’s none left—they’re all gone. So nothing at the moment. But with traveling and everything it’s sad to leave animals alone, isn’t it?
Simone Rocha: That’s exactly what happened to me. We ended up moving around so much. They really need company.
AJ: Being half Chinese, half Irish—does that influence your work, do you think? Do you feel Chinese or Irish? Or does it not matter?
SR: I think it does matter. They’re so different. But one thing that is very important in both Irish culture and Chinese culture is family. So both my mum and dad have really big families and really important relationships with all their family. I love being Irish and not looking Irish, and I love going to Hong Kong and knowing that my granny lives there and my aunts and uncles, and I can go out and they’ll all speak Cantonese and play mah-jongg.
AJ: I’m guessing, though, that you don’t like to be referred to as Simone Rocha, the half-Chinese, half-Irish designer. That limits you, doesn’t it?
SR: I’d rather just be a designer. But I am very proud. I don’t mind being called an Irish designer, because a lot of people call me a British designer. I can feel the whole Ireland kicking off when that happens!
AJ: Do you remember your first memory of liking fashion? Was there one thing that set your love of fashion in motion?
SR: It actually just felt totally natural being around fashion, being around clothes. I absolutely love the smell of plastic bags—you know, when everything’s being hung up and shipped out.
I decided to do fine art originally, because I thought fashion would be a cliché. But after a year in college I’d done sculpture, ceramics, print—and then the very last discipline was fashion. And then I was like, Oh no, this is it—this is how I can translate my creativity.
I was actually a terrible student. I was abysmal in my B.A. None of my teachers thought I cared. And I didn’t. But I was still producing work, and there was obviously something in it!
AJ: You were having fun, I hope!
SR: That was the problem! I was having far too much fun—far too interested in socializing. But then I got in on the M.A., and around two weeks into it… Well, I’d never cared so much about something in my whole life.
AJ: So now you’ve done three shops with Dover Street. Can we do your perfume, too?
SR: That would be fabulous! I’d love that. I already know what it will smell like. Something real, but something really special.
If anyone could make “hippies in fur” look chic, it’s Karl Lagerfeld. In today’s Throwback Thursdays video, Tim Blanks looks back on Fendi’s Fall ’91 show, in which Lagerfeld presented an irreverent, ultra-luxe homage to the 1960s Haight-Ashbury scene. Iconic models like Linda Evangelista were decked out in reversible fur coats, miles of fringe, bucket hats, and beads. Consider it a glamorous alternative to festival style.
Looking at Fendi past and present, Blanks explains how fashion history has unfolded—the technology, the craftsmanship, and the constant nod to the future. As for the bona fide hippies who protested Fendi’s penchant for fur? The Kaiser put it simply: “As long as people eat meat and wear leather shoes, we shouldn’t discuss that subject.” Watch the full video here, and check back next week to see Tim’s latest look into the archives.
Since launching Edun in 2005, Ali Hewson and husband Bono have been candid about the challenges they’ve faced in developing and maintaining a fashion brand—particularly one with an ambitious mandate to source materials and employ artisans across Africa. But then, when the name of your label is nude spelled backward, perhaps transparency is a given. While Edun has been partially owned by LVMH for the past five years, only recently, with the appointment of creative director Danielle Sherman in April 2013, has the brand come into its own. Shortly before guests arrived chez Bono for a three-part party hosted by MyTheresa.com to celebrate the company’s launch on the site, Sherman (formerly of Alexander Wang and The Row) and Hewson settled into an outdoor nook overlooking the Mediterranean to discuss the state of Edun today.
Danielle, you’ve just been made a member of the CFDA. What does that mean to you?
Danielle Sherman: I’m very lucky to be a part of that community now. It puts us on another platform. With Edun, so much of what we do is about a meeting of the minds. This is another way of connecting to a larger community.
Now that Danielle has two seasons behind her, how has the team settled into this new chapter at Edun?
Ali Hewson: I think Danielle has done an amazing job in rewriting us aesthetically and finding exactly how to work in Africa and how we produce. We’re now producing 85 percent in Africa, which was our goal from the beginning—we just could never really get there. But with Danielle’s commitment, we are there.
How did you finally reach this goal?
DS: It’s in the details. Everyone [in this industry] is creating and manufacturing stuff, but the details are what make things special. We do this by talking to the people who are making our clothing. But then also setting up a structure where they can understand our language—certain details like necklines—and then they can successfully achieve it. So it’s not like we just send packages away and then expect to get something back. The way we work at Edun and the factories we work with in Africa—it’s all extremely intimate.
Ali, how did you determine that Danielle would be a good fit?
AH: Bono and I met her in Switzerland at a hotel. We were on our way someplace; she came to see us, and we had an hour and a half together. But it was very clear to us just by meeting her that this was someone who was really going to think through every step of the process and who had the excitement and imagination to do the creative side. It kind of just oozes out of her; you can feel it. So we felt very confident once we met with Danielle—as if we found home.
How does access to artisanal techniques benefit the collections?
DS: Madagascar has a vast history of embroidery, for example. So if anything, it’s us going there and learning from them. That’s why we say it’s reciprocal—not purely a transfer of skills from our end or their end. When I visited last year, we were walking on a beach and saw some fishermen’s homes—essentially long leaves interwoven into honeycomb structures. It was so beautiful and so straightforward. Little things like that can inspire the total direction of a season.
Your most recent collection drew from your visit to the archives at the Musée de Quai Branly in Paris. But it hardly feels like a trip back in time. How do you keep the collections current?
DS: I think being a woman and being able to relate intimately to the clothing that you’re working with and that you’re wearing—you see something and you’re influenced by it. And then the way we like to interpret it is in a nuanced way, not an obvious way. When I went to the Musée du Quai Branly, I met with Héléne Joubert, who oversees the African textile archive, and the history is all there. The textiles that were really interesting to me were from North Africa, especially Morocco. They’re geometric and graphic and have a lot of stripes. That’s what gave me the idea to take something classic like a herringbone and intersect it with a stripe.
Danielle, you clearly have the basics figured out from your stints at Alexander Wang and The Row. Were the directional runway looks a challenge?
DS: I think in order to really push Edun and give it new direction creatively, we had to introduce more transformative or aspirational pieces. This took more time to develop because I needed to still relate to it in some capacity; it couldn’t be totally foreign. Nothing that we do is really fantastical or frivolous and there’s no excess. Everything is quite stripped down, very reduced to an essence. The stuff you see in the show is definitely stuff we have worked and reworked. But I read that Fitzgerald rewrote The Great Gatsby something like 76 times. And if he wrote that book 76 times, then I could redo this collection a few times. For Edun to be a viable and relevant brand, people need to relate and understand the core basics and classics, because that is the everyday. But people still need to get excited by something, and those pieces have to be what you see in the show.
With MyTheresa, are you after greater brand visibility and reach?
AH: Absolutely. And to introduce Danielle as the creative director of Edun internationally—to get people to understand and recognize who she is and what she does. MyTheresa really wants to support us. As Jens [Jens Riewenherm, MyTheresa's CEO] was saying to me earlier, “We’re not into a one-night stand; we’re into commitment.” Which is so important for us because we’re still a small brand working in Africa.
Have you been able to speak with clients and retailers about their opinions and expectations?
DS: That’s probably been one of the biggest challenges; we don’t have our own store, so we are relying on retailers to give us information. Justin [Justin O'Shea, MyTheresa's buying director] came in a few times and we’ve had conversations to understand his market and who his customer is, because it varies significantly from other dot-coms. And MyTheresa has such a unique angle. They’re the ones picking up those showpieces. I really like honesty. My mom and my sister talk about things a lot. Ali might say why she likes something or what she’s not into.
AH: Danielle is very open, which for a creative person, is amazing. She’s really open to what people think and what they want to wear and to making Edun a success. At the end of the day, you can have the most beautiful clothes, but if people don’t want to wear them, it’s not going to go anywhere. And the whole point of the mission is that we do sell clothes, and then the company grows and therefore we work more in Africa.
Do you find this is a motivator for you—that it gives the fashion another dimension?
DS: It’s unlike any experience I’ve had. I ask myself, How can I be tired when there’s a bigger hill to climb? It’s something that’s bigger than us. And that’s what this is about.
What will Edun look like in five years?
DS: I still think it will have its essence of purity, just by the way we tend to dress ourselves. It always feels honest and very real, and I hope it still has that. I think it will become more diverse, if anything. Our goal eventually is to enter into other categories, which will also fulfill the mission.
AH: It’s very exciting because you’re standing at the bottom of this thing and you don’t know quite how it’s going to grow. But you know it’s going to grow and it has huge potential and great energy moving forward, especially at the moment.
Is it important that Danielle shift the focus from a Bono/Ali story to Edun proper?
AH: We realized from the beginning that no matter what the mission, the aesthetic is the most important thing. Or else it’s not fashion and it’s not going to be a business. And it needs to be a business to achieve its mission. So the aesthetic is what makes it sustainable, and that’s where Danielle comes in.
Danielle, have Ali and Bono influenced the way you think about design?
DS: I have always loved to travel, but most of my research has been from books and things I get inspired by from my friends who are artists. Ali and Bono have shown me a whole other world that exists, and there’s so much incredible inspiration and so many people we have met and a culture I was more or less foreign to that I am starting to get to know. They also continue to encourage me to travel. Bono said to me, “You need to make time to dream.” What he meant is I really need to take that time to clear my head, and see something and have an experience—and then to bring it back to Edun and interpret it and translate it in some way that people can also experience.
Opening Ceremony’s latest addition to its growing empire, a shop at London’s Ace Hotel, officially opens its doors to the public today. “It’s a small store, but it’s a very well curated selection,” said the brand’s co-founder, Carol Lim, of the new Shoreditch outpost. (This will function as the primary OC store in London while the King Street location undergoes renovation.)
In the mix, there are offerings from OC’s roster of popular labels like Hood by Air and Raf Simons, the main OC line, and store exclusive pieces (the DKNY for Opening Ceremony collection will make its debut at the store, ahead of the September 1 official launch). There are also goods from London’s rising stars, such as Faustine Steinmetz and Marques’Almeida. “We have been big supporters of some of these labels, like Marques’Almeida, for a while, so a lot of the product is really special to us,” said Lim.
Lim, for her part, didn’t make it to London for the opening: “I’m at home—my baby is due any day now.” She admitted that she and her OC co-founder, Humberto Leon, have babies on the mind these days. “Funny you should ask, we are working on baby gear right now. I also have a 20-month-old and Humberto has twins; it’s just a big part of our everyday lives at this point, so it makes a lot of sense.” More on that at a later date.
That’s not all they’ve got up their sleeve. “As our Opening Ceremony line continues to grow, we are really interested in exploring what a mono-brand retail format could look like,” said Lim. “We have always had our brand out with the 300-plus other brands that we carry, but we are hoping to switch things up a bit. In the next year, we are most likely going to roll out a new retail experience here in the States.”
Here, we have an exclusive first look inside the new Max Lamb-designed store.
Opening Ceremony Shoreditch at Ace Hotel, London, 106 Shoreditch High Street. For more info, visit www.openingceremony.us.
Rock stars embody a sense of freedom and glamour that fashion will forever be chasing after. No designer has championed the rocker look more than Hedi Slimane, who successfully revitalized Saint Laurent by mining youth-culture codes for creative inspiration. A true fanboy, Slimane regularly casts lanky musicians to walk his runway shows and also fills his front rows with a tribe of real-life musicians, including Alex Turner, Miles Kane, and The Kills’ Alison Mosshart. But SL isn’t the only brand getting with the band lately. For his Diesel Black Gold Resort collection, Andreas Melbostad studded and stenciled tough leather vests and biker jackets that read “Race to the Grave.” Haider Ackermann took his signature decadent aesthetic in an edgier direction for Spring ’15 with black vinyl pants and silk sashes worthy of Keith Richards. And Undercover’s Jun Takahashi paid tribute to New York’s proto-punk scene by featuring the cover art from Television’s Marquee Moon album in his latest menswear lineup. Off the catwalk, models of the moment are striking a similar note with electric, eclectic ensembles. During the Paris menswear shows, Grace Hartzel’s bohemian frock and silver amulets channeled a Ladies of the Canyon vibe, while Waleska Gorczevski paired a grungy Nirvana T-shirt with black shredded jeans—proof that the rock-star trend is as much about attitude as it is about the clothes.